Modern Hotel Room

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-Kathy, Innkeeper
Inn at The Rostay, Bethel, Maine


Hotel Design and Innovation in the 21st Century

We recently attended the Epcot Food & Wine hospitality expo and the New York Hotel Show. The message is clear. You need to update your hotel property and reinvigorate your menus to meet and exceed today’s sophisticated savvy travelers’ expectation.. Customers expect top shelf but that doesn’t’ have to cost you or them top dollar…

Luxury doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Less is more in today’s decorating terms, as chain hotel and luxury properties have demonstrated – so many have refreshed their décor recently. High end doesn’t have to be at a high price for the hotelier. But yesterday’s décor doesn’t cut it anymore. Even the mature guest now wants modern clean design with some element of surprise or interest beyond the boring basic room. The key to a quality redesign, that will deliver payback, is the right focus and the right choice of materials – furnishing, flooring, fabrics and wall-coverings that look rich and unique but are inexpensive and adaptable.

In recent years Holiday Inns simplified their logo, and launched redecorated rooms and spaces with clean bold colors and contrasting crisp white linens, new lighting and spa-like bath components that don’t cost a fortune but exude a fresh style.

Today’s travelers are savvy, they have unlimited travel options via the web. They want a deal, but they also want to be dazzled –they expect value but they also want that little something extra! The wow factor…

Guest rooms should have an artistic element, a bold print or painting, a unique wall covering accented with mood lighting that is adjustable. Creating an environment, not just a room, is what today’s luxury on a budget is all about. Of course today’s traveler wants all the technology they have at home – and more (otherwise they’d just stay home). They expect WiFi, iPod docks, flat screen TVs and charging stations for their electronics. To really wow the guest, some properties are installing mirrors with imbedded TVs, air conditioners that look like picture frames, and accent lighting that changes color in the room. Technology such as iHome docks that have one day alarm setting – made specifically for hotels – are genius.

New products like wall covering made to look like expensive wood, textured marble or metal, or even a life-size photo, are available today in far less expensive laminate or vinyl which are easy to apply over any surface and bring drama to just one accent wall for example - transforming the room in a way that needs only a few other design components for a finished look.

So much can be accomplished with modern lighting, and new carpet featuring bold design that ties in the elements and color of the room - creating a fresh modern feel. Furniture is being designed for multi-functionality now. A wall console with a fold out table or couch can conceal a Murphy bed. Old school wardrobes (which are disappearing from modern hotel rooms along with bathtubs- read on) can be retrofit to host a flat screen and serve as a desk or table top. New materials made with recycled, less expensive material, allow for rich modern look without the huge custom furnishing price tag.

Topic suites, aka themed rooms, continue to deliver rave reviews. Customers enjoy and remember a unique indigenous design. Hotels rooms that are serious or traditional are just plain boring – not very memorable and not worth a repeat visit or referral. Hotels spaces should be interesting and inspiring, offering something beyond what the consumer has at home, a place that surprises with interesting textures, or a dramatic focal point picture or painting that reflects the property’s innate setting. Modest yet elegant is the formula for modern luxury. Knowing when to stop decorating is key too. Adding to much clutter or kitsch can defeat the desired design effect.

Lobbies and Front Desk areas are a guest’s first and foremost impression, and should be inviting but multifunctional. Nesting couches, chairs and small tables that are moveable can create an inviting space that is adaptable for small gatherings, inviting people to socialize while exuding a welcome “mod” vibe.

Choice Hotels recently renovated in what you might call reasonable priced luxury, to keep their lower price point clientele. Matthew Rowan, designer on the Sleep Inn and Comfort and Choice Hotels project, said, “Guests reaction to what we’d done was that anything stuffy or overly high–end was a turn off. People want accessible luxury, elements like home, but better than home.” The Choice brand immediately got rid of vivid prints and replaced them with more neutral fabrics and earth tones, bathtubs were completely eliminated allowing for more room for specialty showers, sleek vanities, and interesting fixtures. Wood veneer furniture products were used to convey the same sense of quality, but with items on budget that are greener and have multi-functions. Every inch of the room should be functional – ex: a day sofa that becomes a bed, a dresser that serves as a desk (with a fold out panel), table or entertainment center. Wardrobes went away, taking up too much space that is rarely utilized by today’s short stay traveler.

Even Motel 6 has redecorated their rooms, but maintained their economy $40 per night rates. Their new rooms feature bold single colored accent walls and coordinated linens, ambient lighting, new bath fixtures, entertainment center/armoire with media centers that offer storage plus charging stations, and wood effect flooring made from recycled material. See video

Payback for redecorating tends to run much faster than in the past because of today’s social media rankings and customers who make reservations based on recent reviews. What your past guest loved about you three years ago is not enough to maintain their loyalty.

In today’s competitive market, you can’t afford not to update your property.

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